It’s time to turn from completer to competitor with a host of refinements in bike tech that’ll have you slicing the air and slicing down your splits. Deeper rim race wheels, TT helmets and integrated aerobars are a trio of additional measures to have you on the way to aero nirvana, as well as your placement for hydration systems, especially when racing Ironman.
While aerodynamics are important, your comfort and (re)hydrating still come first, so think about what pockets your tri-suit has and how much liquid you can carry on your upgraded steed without it becoming a milk float. And if this still doesn’t satisfy you, maybe you should just buy a tri bike…
Total triathlon gear upgrade cost £2,809
1 SLEEVED TRI-SUIT
Tri-suits with sleeves are increasingly popular, offering better aerodynamics and often with the option to be fully unzipped, perfect for mid-Ironman toilet stops. They look better, too, especially if you’re not a fan of the vested style. We like the Zoot Ultra Aero but go for the Heart Sports (pictured) if you’re going long, which has the rummage pouch to boot for mid-race toilet breaks.
2 TT HELMET
Providing your head is still and in the right place, TT helmets can make a significant time reduction on the bike split: around 60secs per hour at 25mph. The trade-off is that they’re largely free from vents, meaning there’s a risk of overheating in hot weather, and some athletes – Chrissie Wellington most famously – choose a standard helmet in hot races. So consider your race terrain, the climate and your own ability to maintain a still head over 90 or 180km
of riding. Our numero uno is the Met Drone WB.
3 TRI-SPECIFIC RUN SHOES
While still keeping in mind comfort and what suits your running gait and weight when deciding on race-day shoes, opting for a tri-specific pair has plenty of benefits. The ability to be worn sockless, a heel loop and tri laces for speedy transitions, plus drainage abilities are all considerations. Our pick? Looks aside, the Asics Gel Hyper Tri 2.
4 WETSUIT UPGRADE
As your swimming improves, a wetsuit upgrade will provide you with increased flexibility around the shoulders and a more discerning buoyancy ratio. Huub offers a range of neoprene thicknesses depending on the level of your swim, and its Huub Aerious 2 is top of our list.
5 HYDRATION SYSTEM
With aid stations spaced further apart on the 180km Ironman bike leg, it’s time to increase the number of hydration options. Ditch the air-disrupting down tube-mounted, bulbous bike bottle and opt for more aero and accessible contenders, positioned behind the saddle and on the tri-bars, and also choose an aero bottle on the down tube. Profile Design and Xlab lead the way, with some offering clips for your C02 canisters as well.
6 INTEGRATED AEROBARS
As opposed to their junior clip-on siblings, an integrated aero cockpit will allow you to change gears at the end of the horns, meaning less moving back and forth with your arms. They’ll offer more stability than clip-ons too. If set up correctly, riding with tri-bars at 25mph over an Ironman bike leg will save you 2mins per hour. You can go for carbon to decrease the weight but it’ll cost ya, so we recommend the aluminium Profile Design Aeria.
7 POWER METER
Power meters have revolutionised top-end bike training, giving you an absolute gauge of the mechanical work your body is doing. “Unlike heart rate, it’s unaffected by either internal or external variables,” says British Cycling’s Nik Cook. “Race-day nerves, weather conditions, cardiac drift, fatigue… the watts you put out are the watts you put out.” What started out as outrageously expensive are now (slightly) more affordable, with Stages Ultegra 6800 a recommended outlay.
8 DEEP-RIM WHEELS
Put simply, deep-rim wheels increase speed, decrease drag and save energy, with a 60sec saving per hour over an Ironman (at 25mph). Choose your 40mm and deeper hoops depending on what courses and conditions you’re racing in, but generally wheel rim depth should be shallower at the front than the rear because of handling. Also factor in braking prowess and weight (they’re heavier than shallow rims), and never go for cheap counterfeits. Tubs, such as the £1,500 Vision Metron 81 here, are lighter but the 600/88mm Revolver Kronostok 350 are our recent pick of the clincher parade.